- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2002

OAS closing ranks
The Organization of American States has sounded unequivocal support for Colombia as it combats Marxist rebels who have answered calls for peace by hijacking a commercial airliner and kidnapping a Colombian senator.
"There can be no doubt that the government has provided all possible guarantees to those who have taken up arms so that the path of dialogue and negotiation could put an end to the armed conflict that for so long has brought bloodshed to the country," OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria said Friday.
"It is deplorable that this type of approach should be answered with the acts of kidnapping, terrorism and indiscriminate attacks on civil society."
Colombian President Andres Pastrana last week vowed to drive out the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia from a safe haven the size of Switzerland. Mr. Pastrana granted the rebels virtual autonomy in the area in 1998 in a vain attempt to bring them to the peace table.
The 34 members of the OAS have "closed ranks to support" Colombia, Mr. Gaviria said.

Jury out on Latvia
The U.S. ambassador to Latvia is questioning whether the Baltic country can stamp out corruption in time to join NATO at the next round of expansion.
"The jury is still out on whether Latvia has the political will to see that reforms are meaningful and comprehensive," Ambassador Brian Carlson said last week, referring to several recently enacted legal measures designed to fight corruption.
Mr. Carlson was speaking at a legal forum that included Latvian Justice Minister Ingrida Labucka.
The ambassador criticized proposals for a new Anti-Corruption Bureau, saying they "lack teeth." He noted recent arrests of some officials suspected of corruption but expressed worries over the murder of a senior judge handling corruption cases.
NATO and the European Union have signaled impatience with Latvia's effort to stop government corruption, Agence France-Presse reports, citing a recent EU report on Latvia.

Hope for Albania
The U.S. ambassador to NATO insists that Albania has as good a chance as other European countries to join the Western alliance, even though most observers believe Albania's membership is a long shot.
Ambassador Nicholas Burns, on a visit to Albania last week, said the United States has made no decision on which nations to invite when NATO meets to consider another round of expansion at its November summit in the Czech Republic.
He told reporters that Albania "will be offered all possible chances" to demonstrate its qualifications for NATO membership.
Mr. Burns notes that a high percentage of Albanians want the country to join NATO.
"This in an important factor, but it is not the only one we have to examine," he said.
Mr. Burns warned Albania that it must solve a border dispute with Macedonia.
"NATO has been concerned with regard to the border problems of Albania and Macedonia," he said. "Both governments have the full support not only of NATO but of other countries to solve the problems."

The new spokesman for the Russian Embassy surely will have his problems with the press. He might even be misquoted. But his name should at least be spelled correctly, something Embassy Row failed to do last week.
The new spokesman is Yevgeniy Khorishko.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
President Joaquim Alberto Chissano of Mozambique, who addresses the Corporate Council on Africa. Mr. Chissano along with President Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and President Fergus Mogae of Botswana meet President Bush tomorrow.
Andrew Geddes of the University of Liverpool, England, who addresses the Migration Policy Institute.
Oleg Orlov, chairman of the Memorial Human Rights Center of Moscow. He will discuss human rights abuses in Chechnya with invited guests of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

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